Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Prosecutor Robert McCullough
       St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s announcement earlier tonight that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown was distressfully disappointing but not at all surprising, given McCulloch’s unprosecutorlike behavior with the grand jury. He has acted all along more like Wilson’s defense attorney than his prosecutor.
        That is understandable but not justifiable, in view of McCullough’s close working relationship with the Ferguson Police Department. That said, his role was to convince the grand jury that Wilson should be brought to trial. Instead, he abrogated that responsibility and inundated the grand jury with conflicting evidence that they were supposed to sort out, evidence that was obviously intended to justify the officer’s shooting of the unarmed African American teenager. In so doing the prosecutor in effect transformed the grand jury into a trial jury, whose conclusion sounded more like a verdict than a decision whether or not to indict.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Photo by Isaac Brekken/AP
        Thank you, Mr. President!
        Given the unwillingness of the House of Representatives even to discuss the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill that has been in their hands for a year and a half, your executive order providing temporary relief from the fear of deportation to millions of undocumented immigrant families was the right thing to do.  
        You gave the House every opportunity to act. You warned them time and again that if they did not, you would. You gave them ample opportunity to avoid your having to take executive action, and they did nothing. The Republican leaders said they preferred to work on the immigration bill one part at a time, and when you said you were okay with that, they backed off.
        You have stated clearly that even now they can nullify the need for any executive action on your part by passing the immigration reform bill they already have, or their own version of it. But no, they just want to attack you for doing what you legally could and morally should do to fix our broken immigration system.
        This is only a temporary solution, of course. There is much more to be done and you have acknowledged that. But it is a humane and hugely important first step.You have kept your promise to the American people. Thank you for having the courage of your convictions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


        The President should act on immigration.
        He has waited long enough for Congress to bring him an immigration reform bill he can sign. He has said repeatedly that the moment they do, the new legislation will supersede whatever executive action he has taken. In the meantime he has promised to take whatever steps are legally possible to improve our broken immigration system.
       Despite that, and despite the fact that both Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush took similar executive action, for Barack Obama do so would be in the minds of many Republicans and the right-wing media one more example of his “lawlessness” and an impeachable offense.  They have been bashing Barack Obama from the moment he first took office, and their negativity paid off for them in the mid-term elections. It aroused the Republican base and disenchanted the Democratic constituency, who, as feared, simply did not turn out to vote.

Monday, November 3, 2014

WHAT WOULD ISAIAH SAY? (A Preelection Sermon)

[This is a shortened and slightly modified version of the sermon I preached yesterday to the Pennswood Village Interdenominational Congregation, in Newtown, Pennsylvania, where I am in my thirteenth year as Minister of Worship.].

From a Bible card published by
the Providence Lithograph Co.
(c. 1904)
        If Isaiah were alive today, I doubt that he would win the most popular preacher award. He would be in too much hot water with those who think the church should keep out of politics.
        Isaiah was not too popular in his day either, for the very same reason. I can imagine the reaction when he attacked King Hezekiah’s foreign policy and denounced the politicians who were advocating an alliance with Egypt. One of the leaders was a foreigner named Shebna, who had risen to a position of power and influence in the court. Isaiah rebuked him publicly for his arrogance and presumptuousness in building an ostentatious tomb for himself.
        This, incidentally, is the only time in the Book of Isaiah that we find the prophet condemning an individual by name, and I’m sure Shebna’s supporters were infuriated by such blatantly partisan politics. Other prophets, like Amos and Jeremiah, did the same thing on occasion, but most of the time the prophets were dealing with issues and policies and general conditions. That was meddlesome enough, and they often paid a severe price for it.